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Attorney General Merrick Garland slams GOP-led House vote to hold him in contempt of Congress

Lawmakers voted 216-207 Wednesday to approve the contempt motion, with one Republican siding with Democrats in attempt to reject it.
Merrick Garland
Posted at 9:23 AM, Jun 13, 2024

United States Attorney General Merrick Garland is slamming a vote by lawmakers on Capitol Hill to hold him in contempt of Congress, calling it an attack on the Department of Justice that was done for partisan political reasons.

"It is deeply disappointing that this House of Representatives has turned a serious congressional authority into a partisan weapon," Garland said in a statement. "Today’s vote disregards the constitutional separation of powers, the Justice Department’s need to protect its investigations, and the substantial amount of information we have provided to the Committees. I will always stand up for this Department, its employees, and its vital mission to defend our democracy."

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 216-207 Wednesday to approve the contempt motion, with one Republican siding with Democrats in attempt to reject it. The vote was in response to the Justice Department refusing to turn over audiotapes of President Joe Biden's interview with a special prosecutor over his alleged mishandling of classified documents during his time as vice president in the Obama administration.

Special counsel Robert Hur.

Congress

Special counsel Robert Hur testifies over Biden classified docs probe

AP via Scripps News
7:12 AM, Mar 12, 2024

Republicans largely defended the decision to hold Garland in contempt, arguing that the Biden administration must comply with all Congressional subpoenas. Democrats, meanwhile, called the decision political theater.

Watch: Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland) responds to Garland contempt vote

Watch: Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland) responds to Garland contempt vote

The investigation ended earlier this year without charges against President Biden, with special counsel Robert Hur issuing a controversial final report that described the 81-year-old president's memory as "poor" and having "significant limitations" that would have made it "difficult to convince a jury that they should convict him."

President Joe Biden.

U.S. News

Biden pushes back at special counsel's classified documents report

AP via Scripps News
6:32 AM, Feb 08, 2024

Despite already having transcripts from Hur's interview with President Biden, House Republicans say they need the recordings because they may provide valuable information beyond what's in the transcripts.

Watch: Rep. Harriet Hageman (R-Wyoming) at congressional oversight hearing

Watch: Rep. Harriet Hageman (R-Wyoming) at congressional oversight hearing

It's not just House Republicans who are after those audio recordings. A group of media organizations — including Scripps News parent company E.W. Scripps — have a lawsuit in federal court to try to get access to those recordings.

At this point it appears unlikely the tapes will see the light of day, as President Biden has invoked executive privilege over the recordings, ultimately protecting Garland from further investigation. The charges against him now go to the DOJ, which has to make a determination of whether to pursue them against its own attorney general.

Although a protracted legal battle is possible, it's highly unlikely anything will come of this motion anytime soon. It does, however, mark a major messaging victory for Republicans on Capitol Hill.